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Philodendron Plant Care Guide

Philodendron plant inside on a table in a pot

Need to brighten up your home or office with a houseplant? Then check out philodendrons! These easy-to-care-for plants come in various shapes and sizes, so you can find one that fits into just about every space.

While philodendron plant care is pretty straightforward, knowing what these plants like and dislike is key. Keep reading to learn some philodendron care tips.

Philodendron Basics

When houseplant lovers speak of philodendrons, they could be talking about one of a hundred different plants. That’s because the Philodendron genus contains close to 500 different species! Some species closely resemble each other, but you can find lots of variety within this genus. Whether you’re looking for a lush trailing plant or an upright plant with large leaves, you can likely find a philodendron that fits your needs.

Although philodendrons vary greatly in appearance, they all share a few traits. They’re native to warm areas and are relatively easy to grow indoors. That’s one of the reasons why they’re such popular houseplants.

How to Care for Philodendrons

Since there are so many different types of philodendrons, the ideal care varies between species. However, most philodendrons prefer similar care. Follow these tips to learn how to care for a philodendron plant.

Choose a Proper Container

If you’re growing your philodendron inside, selecting a suitable container is your first step. The container’s material isn’t too important, but make sure the bottom of the pot has drainage holes where water can escape.

Additionally, select a container that’s just an inch or so larger than the plant’s root ball. Small containers can cause plants to become rootbound, while excessively large containers can hold moisture and lead to devastating fungal diseases.

Use a Well-Draining Potting Mix

Once you have your container, it’s time to fill it with a proper potting mix. Some philodendrons grow as epiphytes, meaning they grow on other plants or rocks and absorb water and nutrients from the atmosphere. Others start their journey in the forest canopy and eventually send roots into the soil. Regardless of which type of philodendron you’re growing, all of these plants prefer a coarse and well-draining soil mix.

If you want to start with a pre-mixed option, look for a standard peat moss or coco coir-based potting mix. Mix in a few extra handfuls of pine bark fines or perlite to improve drainage and keep your plants happy. Another option is to make your own philodendron potting mix by combining one part peat moss, one part perlite, and one part pine bark fines.

Provide Warm and Humid Air

Since these plants are native to tropical regions of the world, they like to stay in areas with warm temperatures. Aim to keep the plants somewhere between 60-85°F. Along with keeping the air warm, keep your philodendron away from both hot and cold drafts. That means keeping the plants away from air conditioning vents, fireplaces, exterior doors, and any other drafty areas.

While philodendrons prefer high humidity, they can also tolerate moderate humidity. However, the plants will begin to suffer if you place them in an extremely dry area. If you need to boost the moisture in your home, you can add a humidifier or pebble tray.

Keep in Indirect Light

Since most philodendrons grow in the understories of forests, they prefer dappled or indirect light. Bright, direct light can burn plant leaves, while dim light will lead to slower growth. That means you should keep the plants away from south-facing windows with direct rays as well as dark corners.

Some suitable locations for indoor philodendrons include in front of a south-facing window covered with a sheer curtain or in the interior of a bright room.

Water When Dry

One of the most difficult parts of philodendron plant care is determining when and how much to water your plant. Both overwatering and underwatering can lead to serious problems, so your goal is to provide your plant with just the right amount of water.

As long as you’re using a well-draining potting mix, you can plan to water your philodendron about once every one to two weeks. Since the temperature, humidity, and time of year all impact how often you’ll need to water, checking the soil can be a good way to determine whether or not you need to water. Stick a finger into the top two inches of soil and feel for soil moisture. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water. But if it’s still moist, wait to water.

Vining and trailing philodendrons tend to dry out quicker than upright philodendrons, so plan to water them more often. Most philodendrons aren’t particularly sensitive to the minerals and chemicals present in tap water, but you can use filtered water or rainwater if you wish.

Fertilize Regularly

Adding fertilizer gives your philodendron the nutrients it needs to grow and remain healthy. Like most houseplants, philodendrons are sensitive to overfertilization, so choose a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 1-1-1. Fertilize your plant once in the early spring, late spring, and midsummer.

Common Philodendron Problems

Even if you do your best to provide the best possible philodendron care, you may still see your plants develop issues. Maybe you notice their leaves aren’t looking as lush as they once did or your plant has stopped growing. Here are some common philodendron problems as well as ways to fix them.

Yellowing Leaves

If you notice your philodendron’s bright green leaves developing a yellow tinge, something is awry. However, it can be difficult to determine the cause of the discoloration since there are so many possibilities!

That said, too much water is one of the most common causes of yellow philodendron leaves. If you’re watering too often or using a poorly-draining soil, your plants may sit in moist soil and develop root rot. Remember to use a well-draining potting mix and only water when the top two inches of soil are dry.

Other common causes of yellowing leaves include underwatering, lack of fertilizer, or cold temperatures.

Wilting Leaves

When you see wilted leaves, it’s easy to assume a lack of water is to blame. And while this is a possible cause, it’s not the only one. Overwatering can lead to root rot which prevents plants from taking up the water they need. Therefore, both underwatering and overwatering can cause wilting leaves.

Check the soil moisture level at least once a week and water when the top two inches are dry. If they’re still wet, wait to water.

Popular Types of Philodendrons

With hundreds of philodendron species and even more varieties, you have lots of options to choose from. Here are some of the most popular types of philodendrons to consider.

Heartleaf Philodendron

One of the most popular types of trailing philodendrons, this plant produces cascading vines covered with heart-shaped leaves. This plant goes by the scientific name Philodendron hederaceum, and popular cultivars include the two-toned ‘Brasil’ and light green ‘Lemon Lime.’

Philodendron Birkin

A hybrid variety, philodendron birkin has dark green leaves with thin white stripes. The plants grow upright and remain less than three feet tall.

Prince of Orange

Known for its light green foliage with hints of orange, ‘Prince of Orange’ is a great option if you’re looking to step away from plants with dark green leaves.

Philodendron Gloriosum

The philodendron gloriosum has large, heart-shaped leaves that look like they’re covered in a thin layer of velvet. The leaves are deep green with stunning white veins.

Brighten Your Life with Houseplants

With so many philodendrons to choose from, you’re sure to find at least one variety that matches what you’re looking for. And as long as you follow our tips for philodendron care, it’s easy to keep these plants healthy and happy.

When it comes time to add a philodendron to your home, check out our plants for delivery. Not only do we offer a few types of philodendrons, but we also carry succulents, cacti, and other green friends. To make sure you know how to keep your plant happy, read through our plant care guides. We’ve put together tips about dracaena plant care and written all about caring for rubber plants.

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